It’s difficult to rebuild your relationship after an affair. There’s no surprise there. But you might find it surprising that some couples actually get stronger in the wake of an affair.
Picture this…there’s been a feeling of disconnection between you and spouse for years. You’ve tried to repair what feels broken, but feels like the harder you try, the worse it gets. You feel lonely and disconnected. Your partner feels more like a roommate than a soulmate.
While there’s no excuse for an affair, one thing that we can acknowledge is that people reach out to someone else as a way to get their needs met.
Once the dust settles, it’s helpful for couples to learn more about their patterns as a way to learn what caused the relationship to break down. It’s important to look at each person individually to understand the needs, vulnerabilities and teachings that have been brought into the relationship.
In her book, “After the Affair”, Janis Abrahms Spring, she gives questions to help couples understand themselves and their partners better. Working through these questions after an affair helps couples understand themselves and their partners in a meaningful way.
Below are the questions taken from the book “After the Affair”, by Janis Abrahms Spring. These questions aren’t just for couples after an affair, they can be helpful for all relationships. Take your time working through them. Use this as an opportunity to get to know yourself, and to get to know your partner…again.
- What feelings were most dominant or familiar to me as I was growing up?
- What was going on in my relationship with my parents, significant caretakers, or siblings, or in their relationships with one another, that made me feel this way?
- What was missing from the way my mother treated me? What was my greatest unmet need? How did this affect who I became, and the way I feel about myself today?
- What was missing from the way my father treated me? What was my greatest unmet need? How did this affect who I became, and the way I feel about myself today?
- What did I like most about the way my mother treated me? How did this affect who I became, and the way I feel and think about myself today?
- What did I like most about the way my father treated me? How did this affect who I became, and the way I feel or think about myself today?
- What did I learn about love from the way my mother and father treated me?
- What did I learn about love from the way my parents treated each other?
- Who were the other significant people in my life? What did they teach me about love, and how did they affect my concept of myself?
- How do I blame you, my partner, for making me feel the way I’ve always felt?
- How do you blame me for making you feel the way you’ve always felt?
- How do I hurt you in ways in which you’re already vulnerable?
- How do you hurt me in ways in which I’m already vulnerable?
- How do I provoke you so that you react to me in ways that hurt me, as I’m used to being hurt?
- How do you provoke me so that I react to you in ways that hurt you, as you’re used to being hurt?
- What do I give you that you value most?
- What do you most need from me to feel safe, secure, and valued?
These questions have prompted many deep discussions between couples after an affair. Take your time with them. It isn’t always easy to be vulnerable so move at a pace that’s comfortable for you both.